Entries Tagged 'Property Taxes' ↓

The City of Sioux Falls is swimming in money

As the city council discussed giving $10 million towards the DSU Cyber project tonight and after watching the presentations and seeing the state supports this, I think it is a good project. Not sure I believe all the bull thrown about today, but it is a positive investment. I did shake my head though when the Dean of DSU was talking about what the $10 million investment in infrastructure was for and said something like, “It’s for campus lights and sidewalks, but we don’t know what that will cost since the final plans haven’t been drawn up yet.” So where did the $10 million number come from?

But what shocked me was these slides presented by the city finance director. Fortunately I took a screenshot, because these slides are NOT available online. The city has millions laying around in the reserve funds.

It is unfortunate the council was not told this last month so they could come up with projects (like cleaning up our core, or even better, CUTTING PROPERTY TAXES FOR ALL OF US! Instead the mayor, who hates transparency, hid the information from the council so he could push his pet projects, so far spending $12.5 million of it, with NO input from council except a vote once it was packaged in a neat little bow.

Whether you agree or disagree with the bonuses or the cyber project is of little concern, it is how the mayor secretly negotiated these projects that is very bad for good government.

Sioux Falls City Council’s Property Tax Refund proposal is Hypocritical

So Councilor Soehl is sponsoring an ordinance for the city’s portion of property taxes to be refunded to low income seniors (1st Reading, Item #50)

â–ª A Simplified Process: Those who qualify for state assessment freeze program will be automatically enrolled.
â–ª Must make application at the County for the State’s Assessment Freeze Program (existing process) by April 1 of the year preceding the year in which City will issue refund.
â–ª Refund will be equal to the municipal property tax, but may not exceed $500 annually.
â–ª City Council must renew program each year by resolution, and make an appropriation.
â–ª If approved, first refund payment issued on or before March 31.

While I certainly don’t have an issue with offering this program it surely wreaks with hypocrisy. While Councilor Starr, the co-sponsor, has consistently voted against property tax percentage increases, most of the council has not. They have also approved millions in TIFs for luxury condos, parking ramps and egg roll factories which raises the taxes on the rest of us (mine went up 7.5% from last year) and they have yet to present a doable plan to combat affordable housing in our city.

All of this comes of course just a couple months from a city council election. Hmmmmm.

I’m all for keeping taxes affordable for low income seniors, but you have to wonder if it is at the cost of the rest of us. I have been arguing for awhile that we are being extremely overtaxed in Sioux Falls. Somehow we have $10 million laying around for infrastructure of a private non-profit research facility (even though a well maintained road goes right up to the development and water and sewer probably run right underneath it) and a couple million for employee retention bonuses (without a vaccination mandate or incentive).

If the city council wants to help out with property tax relief, why don’t we start with the people who are paying the lion’s share? I think the city council needs to start cutting property taxes, for all of us, and eliminate TIF’s and tax rebate for the big guys all together.

Does the Sioux Falls City Council already have the power to give property tax cuts?

As l learned on Wednesday there is probably going to be proposed legislation next year that could change TIFs to apply to residential housing. But does the city have to wait for Pierre to make a move?

I don’t think so.

There are already things the city has been doing or are planning on doing;

• A home buying program for police officers and firefighters

• The city can give property tax rebates to homeowners, I think the last mayor to do this city wide was Hanson

• The mayor gives yearly tax rebates to dozens of developers and big employers

• Community development loans either low interest or no interest and federal grants associated with the program

• Councilors Pat Starr and Curt Soehl are exploring elderly property tax rebates

The city council only likely has the power to rebate the city’s portion of the property tax, but over a period of 5-10 years, that is significant savings.

I don’t think the city has to wait for state law to change, I think they have the power right now to start a city property tax rebate program for people who want to buy a home in our core that needs rehabilitation, in fact they could have started this program 20 years ago if they wanted to.

I have been a proponent for over a decade that the city engages in a pilot program in our core that rehabs entire neighborhoods with a combination of public works (streets, sewer, water, lighting, sidewalks, curb and gutter) and individual property owners with fixing up their property with the use of Federal grants, community development loans and city property tax rebates.

So why doesn’t the city pursue this? I don’t have that answer, but if I had to guess it has to do with developer greed and the elite structure of leadership in our city.

So when someone tells you it is hard to rehab poorer neighborhoods in our city because of ‘laws’ I just don’t believe them. The city council in conjunction with the mayor’s office and planning department have all the tools they need to start on a pilot program like this, but their hatred of the working poor is getting in the way of their handouts to the welfare developers.

UPDATE II: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Nov 2, 2021 & the mysterious property tax inquiry

UPDATE II: As I suspected one of Poops campaign rats called in the agenda posting. Supposedly this required the city clerk to ask all the councilors if they were going to attend and since quorum said they might, it was put on the docket. As I have already said before, I encourage all candidates to invite the entire council to their events and call the clerk’s office to have it put on the agenda calendar. Just make sure it is one of your greasy campaign rats, you wouldn’t want to demean yourself with such menial tasks.

UPDATE: I found out the tax inquiry has to do with a proposal by councilors Starr and Soehl about (city) property tax relief to the elderly, and if it is possible to give them a rebate if a program was formed.

As for the posting of a campaign fundraising event, I was sent this;

1-25-1. Official meetings open to public–Exceptions–Public comment–Violation as misdemeanor.

The official meetings of the state and its political subdivisions are open to the public unless a specific law is cited by the state or the political subdivision to close the official meeting to the public.

It is not an official meeting of one public body if its members provide information or attend the official meeting of another public body for which the notice requirements of § 1-25-1.1 or 1-25-1.3 have been met. It is not an official meeting of a public body if its members attend a press conference called by a representative of the public body.

For any event hosted by a nongovernmental entity to which a quorum of the public body is invited and public policy may be discussed, but the public body does not control the agenda, the political subdivision may post a public notice of a quorum, in lieu of an agenda. The notice of a quorum shall meet the posting requirements of § 1-25-1.1 or 1-25-1.3 and shall contain, at a minimum, the date, time, and location of the event.

The public body shall reserve at every regularly scheduled official meeting a period for public comment, limited at the public body’s discretion, but not so limited as to provide for no public comment. At a minimum, public comment shall be allowed at regularly scheduled official meetings which are designated as regular meetings by statute, rule, or ordinance.

Public comment is not required at official meetings held solely for the purpose of an inauguration, swearing in of newly elected officials, or presentation of an annual report to the governing body regardless of whether or not such activity takes place at the time and place usually reserved for a regularly scheduled meeting.

If a quorum of township supervisors, road district trustees, or trustees for a municipality of the third class meet solely for purposes of implementing previously publicly-adopted policy, carrying out ministerial functions of that township, district, or municipality, or undertaking a factual investigation of conditions related to public safety, the meeting is not subject to the provisions of this chapter.

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

While I will admit they may be squeaking by on the legality of this, I do ask some followups. Notice the word ‘may’. In other words, there was NO requirement that this should be posted. On the basis of this argument, that means anyone running for city office moving forward should or could post their fundraising events on this calendar because there could be a quorum coming to the event. I challenge anyone running for the city ballot to post all of their public events whether they are fundraisers or not to ask the city clerk’s office to have that event placed on the city council’s agenda calendar.

I also question if this was truly a public event. Yes, the public was invited, BUT, there was a fee to enter the event. Does this still make it public? Sure. But you could argue that if a quorum of city councilors are attending a Stampede Game that, that should be posted on the council’s agenda. Or maybe a quorum was attending a Levitt concert? Maybe that should be on the agenda.

Let’s face it folks, their was NO legal requirement for Paul’s campaign to post this. While it doesn’t violate any laws, it certainly is questionably ethical.

I will have to admit, when I normally peruse the agendas I can usually figure out WTF is going on, or at least have a teeny-tiny idea. I will admit though, Item #6, Approval of Contracts, Sub-Item #38, has me baffled;

City Attorneys, Engagement Agreement for City’s Authority to Provide Property Tax Relief, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, $5,000.00

So there are a few things I do know. Our City Attorney’s office has been incompetent, ill prepared and ignorant of municipal law for years and depending on outside counsel for a whole host of things they know nothing about. I have often joked we should just have a purchase agent and paralegal in the office to save taxpayers money.

What I don’t know is why they have to have outside counsel give them advice on how to ‘legally’ give property tax relief. If you think this is about you and me, you are sadly mistaken.

Like I said, I have no idea what they are up to, but if I was a guessing man, this has to do with making the property tax breaks to the ones that mostly don’t deserve it, more accessible and more secretive. But that is just a guess.

Also notice in the calendar below, from the City of Sioux Falls website that candidate TenHaken has violated campaign rules and probably several city ethical rules by listing a fundraising event for his campaign on the official calendar of the city. How did this even get on there?!?!

More on Trusts in South Dakota

I will admit, it was refreshing to read this humorous article about South Dakota Trusts. It all starts with some digs on Noem, EB-5, Gear-Up, etc.;

Corey Lewandowski. Read it all here: (The BulwarkThe Daily Beast) BTW, Ian Fury, Noem’s official spokesperson, said “Corey was always a volunteer, never paid a dime (campaign or official).” To which I instantly responded, “So, you are saying that he did it for love.”

Is that what Repugs call love? Unfortunately, YES!

Now I am proud to say that in one way, I actually broke this story, on SleuthSayers, back on June 20, 2012. It’s just that no one listened. As the once and (probably) future AG Marty Jackley once told me, “Call me when there’s a crime.”

I think Jackboots had that line disconnected after Dep SOS Pitty Pat and SOS Jason Gunt left office.

Unless you live under a rock or are dumber than* our governor (or related to her) you know that the Trusts don’t benefit average South Dakotans one iota, it doesn’t even benefit main street or the government coffers in Pierre. There is a select group of banksters, bondsters and all around scammers making money from this and the cavemen and Betty Rubbles running our state house don’t have a clue about the laws they are passing.

I can feel all that liberty and freedom making me dumber by the minute.

Lincoln County Tax Levy Vote proves local officials are NOT doing the work of the people

I do agree that it was only an 8% voter turnout, but either way, it was a blowout. I have felt for a long time that both County Commissions, the City Council and the School Board are NOT listening to what the citizens want, or in this case, don’t want. They simply show up and vote for tax increases on the minions so they can turn around and give contracts or tax breaks to the welfare queen developers, banksters and bonders.

The system is rigged.

We no longer have representative government in the Sioux Falls Metro Area or even in the state. This is what happens when you have one-party rule by authoritarians who only serve the ruling class. Don’t believe me? A majority of all of the members of all of these governing bodies are Republican. I think the only members that are registered Democrat are Pat Starr, Jeff Barth and Kate Parker (there may be a couple more, but they ain’t telling anyone.)

The irony of the Tax Levy revolt is that it was spearheaded by Republican voters! That is why it still baffles me they continue to vote for the very representatives that don’t listen to them.

I told an older Democrat not to long ago that no matter who the majority party in local government bodies is, you will continue to get tax and fee increases. The difference is the Dems will spend it on the citizens and the Repugs will spend it on their welfare queen developer bankster buddies.

Mayor’s Discretionary Funds, 2008-2018

Here are the Mayor’s Discretionary Funds (slush fund) starting in 2008. Remember, the last mayor hid it from the public and council and while the council got to see it after his term it still doesn’t make it right.

From my assumptions so far the money comes from the general fund (1st or 2nd Penny) and it is signed off by ONE person, the Mayor. I can’t find anywhere in city ordinance that this is approved by anyone else but the mayor. It may go through a review process, but as far as I can tell the applicants probably work through the Development Foundation and the Chamber and then the Planning Department. But at the end of the day the mayor doesn’t have to approve a single application . . . but he does . . . in the dark of the night.

(Click to enlarge)

Is it time to END the Sioux Falls Mayor’s Discretionary Tax Rebate Program?

We found out a few years ago that the Planning Department in collusion with the Mayor’s office has a list of PRIVATE developer and corporation tax rebates. The kicker is all of the rebates are approved ONLY by the discretion of the Mayor. There is NO City Council OR public review of the rebates. The mayor simply signs off on them. While they can be seen by the public you have to know who to ask. There are NO public presentations of the recipients.

How do they work? Basically a developer or company, or investment group (LLC) makes significant upgrades to the property and a portion of the cost (usually around half) is rebated back to them from their paid property taxes. Like TIFs, it is only an option for a select few and extremely UNFAIR to the 99.99% of property taxpayers in the community.

Now, I’m not going to cry corruption, I’m just going to keep this simple, it is time to end this welfare handout because 1) it goes against the FREE market system but more importantly 2) The mayor should not have this kind of power and control to secretly hand out tax rebates to whomever he wants to.

I think the City Council needs to end this process ASAP.

You will see below how random and highly questionable the recipient list is which adds the element of corruption;

• Endeavor 212 LLC, Dr. Richard Brue, Historic DTSF Property, this one surprises me since downtown property is very valuable and certainly doesn’t need a tax break.

• Smithfield, this company owned by Communist Chinese investors got a massive tax break in 2019 and again in 2020.

• Graco Minnesota Inc, this very successful company based out of Minnesota got a tax break. Why?

• Schenk Properties LLC and AL Properties LLC may be intertwined with Murray properties and they have gotten massive tax breaks in Foundation Park for 3 different properties in 2019 & 2020.

• 4 Suns-I90 LLC, I believe has developed property on North Cliff and 60th, they are based out of Fargo, ND. So I guess we don’t only give tax cuts to the Chinese but also our Northern neighbors.

Third Avenue Lofts LLC, Riverview Square LLC are Legacy Projects intertwined with Norm Drake. So I guess the mayor felt it was okay to give a tax break to a guy involved with the Copper Lounge collapse and the Bunker Ramp debacle.

KV LLC, this one is a mystery, but seem to be based out of Sioux City, SD.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken to announce re-election campaign a day before trying to sneak in a tax increase thru resolution?

UPDATE: This is NOT a fee increase, just an annual notice that the fee exists and renewed, it has since 1992.

City Council Members and Council Staff,

Good afternoon. A resolution (per City Ordinance 96.033) will be presented at Tuesday’s City Council
Meeting to levy an annual front foot assessment fee for street maintenance and repair. The special
assessment funds are used to partially fund the highways and streets operational budget for the
repairs and maintenance of our city streets to include pothole patching, asphalt surface
maintenance, and street sweeping.The front foot assessment fee has been in place since 1992.
The front foot assessment fee will be $1.00 per foot for 2022 and has not changed since 2009.
Attached is the resolution and on the back is the amount that has been collected for each respective
year since 1992.
Thank you, Mark Cotter

It looks as though Mayor Poops is finally going to announce he is running. The irony of this is astounding when you consider that on Tuesday night he is trying to push an over $9 million dollar tax increase thru resolution (item 21) which is legally dubious since tax or fee increases normally go thru the ordinance process of 1st and 2nd readings AND a presentation to the council in advance. Some councilors I spoke with didn’t even know it was on the agenda.

According to the math (thanks Mike Z – I updated his numbers);

Looks to be a new tax being created assessed on the residents of Sioux Falls, is this true?  $1.00 Per foot per property along our ‘streets’. If we have a total # of 900 centerline street miles in this city (1,800 if you include both sides of the street), and each mile is roughly 5,280 feet, this tax generates $9,504,000.00 for the city to be used to maintain and resurface highways, streets, and roads in the city. With a $654,000,000 million revenue stream, is a new tax really necessary?

Once again Paul is showing us his lack of transparency and his dark hatred towards open government. Most government’s would have put this thru a vetting process with it’s public works department, the city council and the citizens. Not to mention in the same night there will be a property tax increase (item 15). You also have to remember we spent most of the $50 million in Covid money on play things and gave away $144 million in tax rebates this year. It looks like we will be heading into the dark abyss for another 4 years unless Paul gets one heck of a challenger.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Sep 14, 2021

Informational Meeting, 4 PM

Presentations on the City Council and Mayor’s 2022 Budget and Covid
(what is surprising in the City Council Budget is the expenditure of over $200K for the City Election. I have NEVER seen it that high. I would be curious about the explanation on that one.)

Regular Meeting, 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts, Sub Item #20. It’s a mysterious what this is, but it seems like some partnership for transit. Be nice to have a presentation and explanation instead of burying it in the consent agenda.

Item #15, 2nd Reading, Property Tax Increase. Of course the Rubber Stamp Council who gave away $144 million in TIF tax rebates this year has NO problem with raising our taxes by millions in a Covid economic recovery.

Item #17, Resolution, Moving the Sculpture Sea Dream from the DT Dog park location to Prairie Green Golf Course. I wonder if the artist was ever consulted about this? I know once when I talked to him about the sculpture at an Augustana art reception (he used to be a teacher) he was irritated that people would call it ‘the golf ball’.

Item #21, Resolution, Levy Front Assessment of $1.00 per foot. Maybe I am missing something here, but shouldn’t this be 1) a 1st and 2nd Reading and 2) an explanation as to why we need this in conjunction with a property tax increases?

#22, Resolution, One Sioux Falls. So this is a perfect example of something that belongs in the resolutions category on agenda, meaningless word games from the mayor’s office.